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Fall 2007 Vol. 7 No. 3



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BRIEF TAKES


Academies Expand Cooperation With Iranian Researchers


In October, Sharif University of Technology, in cooperation with the Iranian Academy of Sciences, hosted visits in several Iranian cities for a delegation from the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering. Following conversations with senior Iranian officials and scientific leaders, the U.S. National Academies announced plans to expand their program of scientific cooperation with Iranian institutions. Important activities have been supported by scientific institutions in both countries, despite continuing U.S.-Iranian political differences that complicate bilateral scientific cooperation.

Academies delegation to Iran, October 2007, photo courtesy Tom Jordan

Former NAE President Wm. A. Wulf, who led the U.S. Academies’ team, hailed this “historic opportunity to continue our work with Iranian colleagues on problems of global importance that will not only advance international science and engineering, but also build trust and respect for one another throughout our societies."

Iranian participants enthusiastically welcomed plans for expanded cooperation. A bilateral workshop -- the ninth in a series that began in 2000 -- will focus on reducing earthquake damage. It will be held in Iran in early 2008 on the topic of adobe and unreinforced masonry structures. Also in 2008, an exchange of science policy specialists will begin between the National Academies and Sharif University with special an emphasis on young professionals. These and other projects that emerged from discussions on topics of mutual interest are part of a program of scientific outreach and cooperation that began in 1999 and has been consistently endorsed by the U.S. Department of State and by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of Treasury. Financial support was provided by the National Academies and the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.   -- William Skane


National Science, Technology Medals Awarded to Members

At a White House ceremony in July, President George W. Bush presented the 2005 and 2006 National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology to 30 recipients, many of whom are members of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, or Institute of Medicine. The National Medal of Science honors individuals for pioneering research in fields such as physical, biological, mathematical, social, behavioral, and engineering sciences. The National Medical of Technology is given to individuals, teams, and companies for their outstanding contributions to the nation's economic, environmental, and social well-being through technology.

Members who received science medals were Hyman Bass (NAS), Marvin H. Caruthers (NAS), Rita R. Colwell (NAS), Peter B. Dervan (NAS/IOM), Nina V. Fedoroff (NAS), Daniel Kleppner (NAS), Robert S. Langer (NAS/NAE/IOM), and Lubert Stryer (NAS) for 2006; and for 2005, Jan D. Achenbach (NAS/NAE), Gordon H. Bower (NAS), Bradley Efron (NAS), Anthony S. Fauci (NAS/IOM), Tobin J. Marks (NAS), Lonnie G. Thompson (NAS), and Torsten N. Wiesel (NAS/IOM).

Technology medals were awarded to members Alfred Y. Cho (NAS/NAE), Leslie A. Geddes (NAE), Paul G. Kaminski (NAE), Herwig W. Kogelnik (NAS/NAE), Charles M. Vest (NAE), and James E. West (NAE).   -- Maureen O'Leary


Contributing to International Capacity Building

The reach and relevance of the work done by the National Academies frequently extends beyond our nation's borders, providing advice that is as valuable in Uzbekistan, Nepal, and Argentina as it is here at home. To facilitate the availability of National Academies reports, the National Academies Press -- publishers for the Academies -- provides free access to its complete catalog of publications to readers in developing countries. This program, launched in June 2003, serves up free PDF files in almost 150 countries. Over the course of four years, roughly 577,800 users have downloaded more than 632,000 files.

In many developing countries, resources are scarce and high-quality books are often difficult or expensive to obtain. Free Web-based materials can be invaluable sources of information. It is nevertheless rare to find whole collections of authoritative reports freely available. A reader in Pakistan recently wrote to the Academies saying, "I am stunned to see such a great collection of books all at one place on cutting-edge issues faced by the students, researchers, and designers of the 21st century. Hats off to the people who made this possible."

Both searchable and shareable, the PDF files are most frequently downloaded in India, Iran, and China, with Brazil, Uruguay, and Mexico close behind. Indonesia, the Philippines, South Africa, and Egypt round out the top 10 consumers of the free reports. Individual users range from working scientists, researchers, and students to professors, policymakers, and community leaders.

At a time when the world increasingly turns to the scientific disciplines to solve problems and answer questions, the National Academies' PDF program is enabling immediate access to massive amounts of credible advice to readers around the globe.   -- Ann Merchant


IOM President, New Executive Officer Appointed

Harvey Fineberg, photo by BachrachHarvey V. Fineberg has been appointed to a second six-year term as president of the Institute of Medicine to begin July 1, 2008. In announcing Fineberg's appointment to a second term, NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone said, "Harvey Fineberg's dynamic and purposeful leadership has positioned the IOM to make progressively greater impacts on the U.S. medical care system as well as the health of individual Americans. IOM's strong focus on improving health here and around the world has made it a recognized authority among health policy leaders in both the public and private sectors."

Judith Salerno, photo by Doug DeMarkAppointed as the new executive officer of the Institute of Medicine, Judith A. Salerno will begin managing operations for IOM and supporting its governance and membership activities in January 2008. Salerno comes to IOM from the National Institute on Aging, where she serves as deputy director and, together with NIA's director, oversees all aspects of a health research, training, and public education program with an annual budget of more than $1 billion. She is senior geriatrician and serves on numerous national committees concerned with the quality of long-term care and with geriatric work force and veterans' health care issues. She has also served on several management committees and played key roles in NIH activities such as bioethics training strategic planning for obesity research.   -- William Skane & Christine Stencel



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Copyright 2007 by the National Academy of Sciences